Late last night, while many were sleeping and reminiscing over Sunday’s emphatic win, reports began to circulate that the Eagles were discussing a trade with the San Francisco 49ers for wide receiver Torrey Smith. As more sources and outlets began to intensify the whirlwind, the Niners were quick to throw water on the fire, according to the local media. But that doesn’t mean discussions aren’t ongoing, or didn’t happen. But regardless of the legitimacy of either report, the Eagles should absolutely pass on such an opportunity if it presented itself.
Enticing, but against the grain:
At just 27-years old, Smith has 36 touchdowns and 4,453 yards, never catching less than 49 passes per season during his time at Baltimore. However that seems to be forgotten when discussing Smith in 2016. A receiver who signed a huge contract with the Niners and has somewhat failed to live up to the hype so far..making him the perfect fit for Howie’s “low-risk, high-reward” ethos..to a point.
The Eagles receiving corps is one of the youngest in the NFL. At 25, Josh Huff is the oldest receiver on the roster, with all wideouts having less than five years league experience. While bringing in a veteran sounds appealing, it was also the intention with out of favor Reuben Randle..a move that backfired during the offseason and was quickly rectified.
Smith has regressed since leaving Baltimore..and while he can no doubt stretch the field like he used to and emerge as an impact player, going against a complete change in direction for a player who brings a heavy cap hit and a 53% catch percentage this year just doesn’t feel like a move that fits this young, emerging team.
It’s very easy to say that Smith has regressed because of the quarterback play in San Francisco, even more so this season with Blaine Gabbert taking the reins early on. But this would quickly disregard the numbers guys like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin put up under Chip Kelly with Nick Foles as their quarterback. Chip has a tendency to win with inferior quarterback play..and has struggled without a franchise guy since his arrival in the NFL. Make no mistake, the regression of Torrey Smith can’t be placed fully on just the man throwing him the football, especially when guys like Riley Cooper had career years with Nick Foles at the helm.
Before we get even remotely excited about a potential star deep threat coming to Philadelphia, let’s take a look at how beautifully friendly the contract the Eagles inherit would be.
Now it’s not quite as simple as this. The Eagles, for instance would be able to cut Smith at any time because the guaranteed money on the contract will have already been swallowed up by the Niners upon completion of the trade. But regardless, that’s a BIG hit to take for a team that has seemingly worked wonders to reduce their cap hit.
From contract extensions that saw players make less in 2016 and more over the next few years, giving the team leverage, to trading guys like Maxwell and Murray, Howie Roseman worked tirelessly to remove huge, damaging contracts from the roster. Trading for one as we approach the halfway mark just seems a little bit backward.
The DGB effect:
Dorial Green-Beckham is rapidly emerging as a complete receiver for the Eagles..and to top it off, he scored his elusive first touchdown in the City of Brotherly Love against the Vikings…seven weeks into the season.
DGB joined the team so late, with such little knowledge of the playbook, that even though he was present in the opening few games..he was very limited in how he could contribute. It wasn’t until last week that Green-Beckham was reported to have all of the playbook down.
Not only that, but the former Titan also had a Bye-Week to get in that extra work. Torrey Smith would not have such a luxury and with such a big name and contract, would be expected by fans to come in and contribute right away..something that just isn’t feasible. If the trade was to be completed before the deadline, there’s no guarantee Smith would feature heavily in the Offense until the latter stages of the season..and for a $9.6M hit, that’s a huge risk to take if you want to “win now”.
Breaking up the band:
Chemistry is one of the most overrated values in the NFL. The Eagles receiving corps is beginning to find its identity under Doug Pederson. Josh Huff’s role has increased, DGB is getting better by the week and Nelson Agholor continues to flash before falling to mediocrity.
The direction is clear..and the battle for the number two receiver spot behind Jordan Matthews is an exciting one. Bringing in someone like Smith (who to be fair has five drops in ninety three targets with the Niners) would send a very clear message that the standard of play among the group is simply not good enough.
It would likely create a divide, lower morale and create a wave of uncertainty at the position..letting the young group develop however and addressing the need after the season, given that this was never intended to be a serious contention team to begin with would be a much better option.
What about Treggs?:
The Eagles also have a deep threat on the roster who’s yet to play a single snap. Coincidentally, he’s also a former 49er, Bryce Treggs. Undrafted out of Cal, Treggs suffered the same fate as DGB..but is yet to be given an opportunity to shine after an injury and a lack of playbook knowledge hindered his early Eagles career.
He would be a LOT cheaper than Smith, if anything is faster and fits in with the mold and direction of the team..why not save your money, keep the band together and allow this team to develop as intended, instead of going back on the initial direction at the sniff of a veteran?
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports